Schott N.Y.C.

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Breaking in Horsehide/Steerhide

How difficult is it to break in a new horsehide or steerhide jacket? I know someone who had a buffalo leather jacket and I don't think it ever softened even after years of wear.

Gail on 12/29/05 at 02:14 PM

Hi Steven, Breaking in a jacket does depend on how much you wear the jacket. If you only wear the jacket occassionally it will take longer versus daily wearing of the jacket. In the manufacturing of our jackets we use 1.2-1.4mm in thickness, which is a heavy leather for all motorcycle jackets. This wt.& thickness in a leather is needed for the best possible protection we can offer a rider. While a light weight leather will break in fast it does not provide the protection or warmth of a heavier leather. It will take time to aquire that broken-in look and feel of a well worn jacket. Gail

Paris7 on 10/20/06 at 07:22 PM

Feeling brave? Got a good shower?  a space to drip dry and a very powerful floor fan that will tilt straight up? 

Put your jacket in the bath and turn the (cool) shower on it, wash it thoroughly inside and out with good soap and rinse it very thoroughly hang it over a strong frame and let it drip dry. In a cool spot.

When it has completely stopped dripping, Hang the still moist jacket on a big wooden coat hanger zip it up and hang it immediately above the cold fast fan, the jacket and arms will balloon out and after some 24 hours it will be dry. When its bone dry the work begins:  Let’s assume that you don't want to add any colour to that "well worn look".  Here's s tip I learned a while ago - maybe Gail would disagree? Remember, she's the boss!

Step 1

I've found that a really good clear cream (Scholl) for very dry feet works wonderfully well on leather as a first relaxation massage. It takes time but really does seem to do the job. Once the leather has completely absorbed the cream it becomes much more flexible.

Step 2

Buy a bottle of top quality Mink Oil - the real thing.
Massage the leather with your fingertips using very little oil at a time, just a drop or two. Work it well in and allow it to soak in. Any spills or wet patches should be wiped dry and massaged.

Step 3

once the leather has absorbed this repeat step 2 but this time on a very uneven surface.  i.e.  Place the leather (surface up) on a wicker laundry basket lid and then repeat step 2, massage quite hard and quickly with your fingertips and in various directions. This quickly stretches and relaxes the leather and the results are wonderfully soft.

Don't try to short cut this, particularly with very dried out or stiff leather. It takes time, if you rush it you risk stretching the leather before it's supple enough and you could damage it.
I've just used this method on a venerable, but I suspect never treated, 618 and it has risen from the dead! The results are spectacular. and its kept its  well used look.


Brock on 10/20/06 at 08:40 PM

i did much the same for new leather boots while in military...and for other leather gear.  Wet them, wear them until dry and then rub in mink oil or a good natural protector like Pitch Blend if you dont mind a pine smell at first.....use hair dryer to open pores....

it will be soft...and very resistant to water and wind at this point...but also loses any breathability it it is a tradeoff depending on what you want.

Now when i get my new jacket...I will try the regular way for a few months of hard riding and wear to see how it goes...LOL

copsunited on 10/21/06 at 12:53 AM

As a young US  Marine we were issued some very hard leather/rough side out combat boots. An old Gunny told me..stand in a bucket of water until your feet feel like they are sloughing..about an hour..take em off and slow dry until almost at the point they would be non-flexible. Put 'em back on (damp) and walk a couple miles.'d get a blister or two but after that you never had a problem with your boots. I cannot see why that would change for the Horsehide jacket. Like the man said..if you wear it a LOT then it is a natural thing.  Geno

Gail on 10/23/06 at 01:05 PM

I see we have alot of home remedies, I just want to be on the record, we do not recommend saturating any leather. While this may have worked for some people I just want to let you know you can also seriously damge a jacket by doing so. Leather can become dried out causing the leather to possibly tear from the dryness. If the lining in the jacket shrinks, there is no way to stretch it out, shrinkage of the lining will disform the shape of the jacket. Gail

crippe on 10/23/06 at 01:21 PM

I wouldn't dare soaking my precious Perfecto One Star, I do however wear it in the rain which I think helps in the breaking in-process. Winter is coming to the north and if I wear it through the winter I think it'll be broken in by spring :) We mostly get rain up here in Sweden now, it used to be snow...some might say it's because of global warming I don't know but it's kind of weird. Fall and winter are almost the same.

Steven on 10/26/06 at 09:10 PM

I think the decision to use some of the more extreme methods of breaking in a jacket are dependent on what you use the jacket for. If it is just for everyday, casual wear, then soaking the jacket and applying all sorts of lotions that weaken the leather might not make much difference. But if you depend on your leather for protection, you are better off breaking it in naturally.

Coco on 10/31/06 at 10:53 AM

I just recieved my Horse Hide jacket last week and it is already starting to break in nicely. I wore it around the house, took a few naps in it, used it as a blanket while watching a movie on the couch, I even lay down on it a few times or just sat on it while relaxing at home. It seems to be working.

TAT2MAN on 06/07/09 at 09:02 PM

Wow! This is an old blog, but I read it and must comment. The only GOOD way to break in any leather is to use it. Boots and jackets are pretty much the same. Wear them, condition them and wear them some more. I've allways laughed at the "distressed leather" look. No thank you, I love brand new. I can distress the leather myself just fine thank you. You don't want to ride around telling someone elses story. Do you?

n2leather on 06/08/09 at 05:48 PM

I've posted this before, but I bought a Schott Cycle Rider. After the first few wears, I thought it was going to break ME in. I spun it in a cold dryer with a clean black tennis shoe for thirty minutes. Softened it up and took off that shiny look.

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